Durban – Sharks director of rugby Jake White is hoping to expose the defensive frailties of the Cheetahs when the two face-off in their Super Rugby encounter at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.
The match is the penultimate one at home for the top-of-the-table coastal side before they head on tour to Australasia next month and they are aiming for nothing less than a full quota of points.
“As a coach, you know they are dangerous with ball in hand but there are opportunities to score against them because they are so attack orientated,” White said ahead of the game.
“What they've gone for is all-out attack, so when they turn the ball over, players aren't in a defensive mindset or positions, so they can leak tries.”
The two sides are the top scorers in the competition with the Cheetahs having collected 213 points in contrast to the Sharks' 206.
However, the Free Staters, who beat the hosts on their most recent visit to Kings Park last season, have the worst defensive record to go with their proud attack having leaked a woeful 303
“We have the least number of points scored against us in the competition, we're the team with the best defensive record and interestingly enough, they have the highest number of points for, although they have the highest number of points scored against them as well,” White said.
Despite that last loss to the Cheetahs, the Sharks boast a 7-4
win-loss record against them, including wins in their previous four meetings.
White named a team that sported three changes this week, with debuts for former Springbok winger Tonderai Chavhanga and flyhalf Tim Swiel, winning his first full cap.
Keegan Daniel is also named on the run-on XV at eighthman with Odwa Ndungane, Fred Zeilinga and Ryan Kankowski making way.
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske made two alterations to his side, the most notable being the inclusion of Heinrich Brussow for the first time after a lengthy injury lay-off.
“Heinrich Brussow is a great player, he's played really well for them,” White said.
“They will get a lot of confidence out of him being back. It's no different to us when we pick our big name players, it gives us a massive boost.”
The Springbok flank takes over from Lappies Labuschagne with Elgar Watts coming in for Johan Goosen at number 10.
Drotske admitted they had been their “own enemies” this year with poor defensive showings, but hoped they would pick themselves up in Durban.
“There have been too many soft moments and too many turnovers,” Drotske said.
“Defence is a concern and you can't disagree with the facts and the stats.” – Sapa